Inquest into death of police informant Solly Nengwane to commence early next year

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Police informer Solomon Nengwane died in custody in 2006.
Police informer Solomon Nengwane died in custody in 2006.
  • The inquest into the death of Solomon Nengwane will continue in February 2022.
  • Nengwane died in police custody in 2006.
  • The previous presiding officer in the matter died.

The inquest into the death of police informant Solomon 'Solly' Nengwane who died in police custody in 2006 is set to continue in February 2022.

According to lobby group AfriForum, the inquest into Nengwane's death was placed on the roll for the week of 28 February 2022, in the Brits Magistrate's court on Monday.

This after the previous presiding officer in the case died.

Advocate Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, and Advocate Phyllis Vorster, a prosecutor at the unit, appeared on behalf of the Nengwane family in the inquest.

AfriForum's Carina Bester said in a statement that the persons of interest are seven senior police officials in whose custody the victim died in 2006.

Last year, News24 reported that former Hawks General Jan Mabula – accused alongside seven other officers of torturing Nengwane – would not be criminally prosecuted.

The National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) Director of Public Prosecutions in Pretoria, advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi, declined to prosecute the officers based on a lack of evidence.

READ | NPA torpedoes criminal prosecution of former Hawks general and 'torture cops'

"Only five of the seven appeared in court today, notwithstanding the fact that all of them were properly subpoenaed to be present today, and also failed to appear on a previous court date," said AfriForum's Bester.

Nel argued that the two who were absent technically had to be arrested, because their failure to appear constituted a crime in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act. However, he argued that the warrants for their arrest should be held over until March 2022 when the inquest commences.

AfriForum said a prosecutor from the NPA is the evidence leader in the inquest. 

It said its private prosecution unit would ensure all relevant witnesses were called to testify in the inquest, including Robert McBride and General Johan Booysen.

"The legal representative of the persons of interest also brought an application earlier this year to the effect that Nel may not appear on behalf of the Nengwane family, because Mabula is the police official who arrested Nel in 2008 during the prosecution of Jackie Selebi."

ALSO READ | 'Torture' cops: NPA stonewalls court action, 14 years on

Bester added that Nengwane's family approached the private prosecution Unit for assistance because after 17 years no one has been held responsible for his death. 

Nengwane, a police informer, had been tracked down by a task team assembled to investigate a high-profile heist – the theft of R14 million from the Benoni police station's evidence locker in May 2006.

News24 previously reported that the team, led by Mabula, stand accused of beating Nengwane to death, and then embarking on a wild cover-up, claiming Nengwane had died from an asthma attack while in their custody.

"The seven people of interest in the judicial inquiry were part of the task team that investigated the case. The stolen money and drugs were never found, however, and according to media reports various witnesses in the case disappeared under suspicious circumstances," said Bester.

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